Striking color images depict traditional lifeways and the pain of imprisonment
During the 1870s, Cheyenne and Kiowa prisoners of war at Fort Marion, Florida, graphically recorded their responses to incarceration in drawings that conveyed both the present reality of imprisonment and nostalgic memories of home. Now a leading authority on American Indian drawings and paintings examines an important collection of these drawings to reveal how art blossomed at Fort Marion.
The Silberman Collection is an unusually complete group of images that illustrate the artists’ fascination with the world outside the southern plains, their living conditions and survival strategies as prisoners, and their reminiscences of pre-reservation life.
Joyce M. Szabo explains the significance of this preeminent collection, which focuses on seven of the prisoner-artists―most notably Zotom and Making Medicine. Through a selection of 120 striking color images, Szabo shows how each artist creatively recorded his experiences.
Szabo compares the artists’ various styles, examines repeated themes to show how each artist approached the same subjects, and considers the distinctiveness of these drawings as representing the emergent culture of Fort Marion. She also surveys how Fort Marion art has been collected since the late 1870s and describes Arthur and Shifra Silberman’s approaches to collecting.
Although other books have considered the Fort Marion artists, this is the first to examine their works in such analytical and comparative detail. Art from Fort Marion: The Silberman Collection captures a unique visual form of Native expression.
Joyce M. Szabo is Professor of Art History at the University of New Mexico and author of Howling Wolf and the History of Ledger Art.
Steven L. Grafe, former Curator of American Indian Art at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, is author of Peoples of the Plateau: The Indian Photographs of Lee Moorhouse, 1898-1915.